Home Health 17% of food available at consumer level is wasted: UN study

17% of food available at consumer level is wasted: UN study

An estimated 931 million tonnes of food, or 17 percent of the total food available to consumers in 2019, went into the waste bins of households, retailers, restaurants, and other food services, according to new UN research.

The research, conducted to support global efforts to halve food waste by 2030, indicates that the weight roughly equals that of 23 million fully-loaded 40-tonne trucks — enough bumper-to-bumper to circle the Earth 7 times.

“Reducing food waste would cut greenhouse gas emissions, slow the destruction of nature through land conversion and pollution, enhance the availability of food and thus reduce hunger and save money at a time of global recession,” Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said in a statement.

“If we want to get serious about tackling climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste, businesses, governments, and citizens around the world have to do their part to reduce food waste,” Anderson added.

For the study, the team looked at food waste that occurs in retail outlets, restaurants, and homes — counting both food and inedible parts like bones and shells.

The report presents the most comprehensive food waste data collection, analysis, and modeling to date, and offers a methodology for countries to measure food waste. 152 food waste data points were identified in 54 countries.

The report finds that in nearly every country that has measured food waste, it was substantial, regardless of income level.

It shows that most of this waste comes from households, which discard 11 percent of the total food available at the consumption stage of the supply chain. Food services and retail outlets waste 5 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

On a global per capita-level, 121 kilograms of consumer-level food is wasted each year, with 74 kilograms of this happening in households.

With 690 million people affected by hunger in 2019, a number expected to rise sharply with Covid-19, and three billion people unable to afford a healthy diet, consumers need help to reduce food waste at home, the researchers said.

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